Tag Archives: Week 7

The Importance of Symbolism in Princess Mononoke

For my paper, I am going to delve a bit deeper into the symbolism of Princess Mononoke. I believe that Miyazaki uses specific characters, scenes, dialogue, and symbols that express the relationship between humans and nature that aren’t explicitly noted in the film. 

            I will introduce my paper with a brief definition and explanation on the relationship with humans and nature. This will introduce the film into the paper as being a symbolic example of humans and nature. My thesis will be “Although Princess Mononoke is an animated film, through its use of symbolic references and images one can see the relation of humans and the natural world in the realistic world outside the realm of the film”.

            In the first part of the paper I will summarize the film, focusing on the aspects of the relationship of humans and nature from the symbols. For example, I will skip some of the unimportant dialogue and focus on discussing the scenes that include the “evil muck” that infects the creatures and eventually the land and San.

            I will then discuss the kind of relationship that we humans must have with nature in order to live fulfilled lives. I will use sources such as articles from Taking Sides (an environmental ethics compilation) and various other articles that I have accumulated to discuss these relationships.

            The next part of my paper, I will describe each symbol that I identify from the film, and how each character, creature, scene, or object relates the philosophy of nature and human relationships.

            Finally, the last part of my paper will be a wrap-up of my paper, along with my thesis. I will conclude with describing the importance of maintaining a relationship with nature, even if it means the destruction of industry and other commodities that we have relied on for survival.



Goldman, Rebecca L. “Ecosystem Services: How People Benefit from Nature”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 44-53. Print.

            I will use this article to describe the many ecosystems of the natural world. This article shows how specific ecosystems are important to human development and growth, and I can describe the citizen of Irontown wanting to create a sustainable environment within the ecosystem.

Attenborough, David. “This Heaving Planet”. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Environmental Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2007. 246-251. Print.

            This article explains the problems of the growing population, which includes the destruction of the environment because of human influence. I will use this article to show how the humans in Princess Mononoke are affecting the natural environemt.

Berry, Wendell. What Matters. Berkeley: Counterpoint, 2010. Print.

            Berry explains the importance of work and culture for a community to survive. I will not only explain the community of Irontown, but also the community of the spirits of the forest and how they must too work for their species’ survival.

Berghoefer, Uta, Ricardo Rozziand Kurt Jax. Many Eyes on Nature: Diverse Perspectives in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve and Their Relevance for Conservation”. Ecology and Society. Vol. 15, No. 1. Leipzig: The Resilience Alliance, 2010. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol15/iss1/art18/. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This online article explains the importance of the relationship between humans and nature. I will use this article to focus on how nature is something that humans should tend and care for.

Brown, Peter G. & Geoffrey Garver. “Humans & Nature: The Right Relationship”. Minding Nature. April 2009, Vol. 2, No. 1. Center for Humans and Nature, 2009. http://www.humansandnature.org/humans—nature–the-right-relationship-article-38.php?issue=5. 28, July 2013. Web.

            This article will help me to explain why humans should have a relationship with nature. Brown and Garver give specific examples of the relationships with the land that we already promote. This article, along with the film’s symbols, will help me explain the importance of the human/nature relationship maintenance.


Becoming One with Nature

Into the Wild begins with a quote from Lord Byron that speaks about nature. The quote is very fitting for the movie with the quote speaking about loving nature more than loving man. The movie then moves into a close up of a woman’s face as she springs up from her sleep, in what seems like a bad dream. She says something about seeing “him” to her husband who tries to comfort her. The movie then transitions into scenes of nature that we come to learn is in Fairbanks, Alaska as yellow words come across the screen. The words seem to be a letter to someone, as if the man is speaking to someone directly. A high camera angle shows a car pulling up into the middle of nowhere and zooms in on a man exiting the car and heading out into the wilderness. This man then finds an old, abandoned Alaskan transit bus out in the wild and decides to make a home out of it. Up until this point, the viewer has no idea what the woman has to do with the man that we are watching, but it is easy to assume that she was referring to this man when she spoke of her dream.

We find out that the woman is the mother of the man in the next part of the movie, as we see her and her husband at a college graduation. They call the name of Christopher McCandless and we see the same man from earlier, only much more clean cut and younger. We then hear this man narrating a poem to his sister as they are on their way to lunch with the family. The poem he is reading is stating that the parents should not have met and when his sister asks about it, he says that it could fit for either of them. This is a foreshadowing of what we will later learn about Christopher’s parents’ relationship.

Although his parents want him to further his education and tell him they will help him with the cost of going to Harvard Law, Chris decides he would rather go out into the wild and leave everyone behind. The viewer sees him donating all of his savings to charity, while we hear his sister narrating. His sister speaks of Chris never liking the material possessions that his parents have always had.

The movie continues through Chris’ travels, where he meets many new people. He comes upon a hippie couple that lives out of a camper and stays with them for a while. He meets a girl that develops feelings for him and works in a grain elevator for a man named Wayne. He also comes across a foreign couple while canoeing through a river and meets an old man on his last portion of his journey before going to his final destination: Alaska. Although he cares for each of these people, he leaves them each, in turn, to continue towards his final goal. The movie is a serious of flashbacks, where the real time is Chris in Alaska surviving on his own and the flashbacks are his journey up to where he is. During this journey he gives himself a new name, Alex Supertramp, and only gives this name to the people he meets. After eating some poisonous berries out in Alaska, Chris becomes very ill and can no longer eat. He becomes increasingly skinny until he gets to the point of death. The viewer sees a sign saying that he lived a happy life and he signs it with his real name. The final scene of the movie is a close up on Chris’ face as he dies and then zooms out to the surrounding area above the bus.

Into the Wild demonstrates how one can love the people around him, but still love nature more. Chris had many opportunities to stay with people he cared about (including his sister who narrates throughout the whole movie and misses him), but chooses to go out and live in the wild instead. Chris’ life demonstrates the ability to have a close relationship with nature, one that does not require destruction.


Into the Spirit

Into The Wild

There is so much to behold in nature than what meets the naked eye. One fails to see the spiritual aspects of the dirt beneath one’s feet or the sky above. Sean Penn’s 2007 film Into the Wild tells the true story of a young man who sets out on the journey of discovering nature. This film shows the beauties and wonders in a spiritual nature which seems to be masked by today’s society.

Chris McCandless, a recent college grad, has his whole life planned out for him: wanting to continue education at Harvard, having over $24,000 in savings, and even the chance to receive a new car from his parents. However, this mundane, materialistic life forces the adventurous Christ to leave everything behind in pursuit of a life in the natural environment of Alaska. Along the way, he meets and works for many people who not only influence his travels, but also his “new life” story. In this new life, Chris must learn to adapt to living in nature by collecting his own food and surviving harsh weathers and conditions. Gaining new friendships, love, and wisdom along the way, Chris’ death is not in vain. He realizes in the end that his journey’s purpose was to take him away from the world he knew into the world that he was meant to live in.

Most of Into the Wild takes places in the setting of a variety of places outdoors: Colorado Rivers, South Dakota farms, and even the borders of Mexico. Chris, who is the protagonist of the story, leaves his life at home to trek to these natural spots to live and survive on the resources around him. What becomes apparent towards the end of the film with the encounter with Ron is that the wisdom gained from his journeys allows Chris to see the natural world for what it really is: spiritually created by God. While looking down on the world with Ron, Chris tells the man that “God’s place is all around us, it is in everything and in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things”. And boy, did Chris change his perspective of the world. Throughout the movie to this point, Chris learned to live in a world with nothing but the clothes on his back and the money he gained from various jobs. His friendships and guidance along his journey allowed him to see the beauty of the spirit within people, and by living in nature he was able to see the spirit all around him. At his dying moment, he thought of what it would be like to return to his family. However, he wouldn’t have gotten the chance to die a happy death in which he became one with the spirituality of nature.

Facing the consequences of our lifestyles

In my paper I will talk about and include in my introduction that it seems that we have come to a point where society does not even include “environment” or “nature” in its vocabulary anymore. I will follow this by presenting the problem that people think that a world that uses the ground resources, such as oil, which moves lots and lots of money, does not need green energy. That is the indeed the main problem. Oil has become the main natural resource used in this world. It does not matter if it hurts the environment or not, because it moves money.

However, green energies do not move enough money and companies are not willing to make the investment on those, because it is not worth the cost. Money is a thing of the present; it does not see a future. This capitalism world only cares about material and money, not nature. I will also present a discussion of how we have gotten comfortable with this lifestyle with the use of vehicles, factories, massive production and other oil uses and we have not seen or experience any big changes on Earth yet, but future generations will. People do not see the advantage of using green energy, they only see the sacrifice that we would have to do, such as short showers, public transportation, reduction of the use of electricity…etc. Finally, I will finish conclude my paper with the proposal of using green energies and what it would mean to society, which would be used to satisfy human needs and stop hurting the environment. However, big companies use and control oil and they move enormous amounts of money, and money governs the world. Money does not care about future.

Thesis: facing the consequences of our lifestyles by not taking measures such as stop using oil and the concept of using green energies.


First source

Copland, S. (January 19, 2012). The Drum Home ABC. retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/3776760.html. This source from ABC titled “the war against renewable energies” from Simon Copland talks about the consequences of the rise of new companies that are using green energy against oil companies.

Second source:

Geographic, N. (July 26, 2011). National Geographic Daily News. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/07/110726-nsf-oil-impact-lipid-video/ Here “National Geographic Daily news” mentions and explains the impact of oil spills on the environment.

Third source:

Heinberg, R. (2006). The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars, Terrorism and Economic Collapse. Clairview books. A book from Heinberg in which he discusses a plan to prevent oil wars and economic consequences of the massive use of oil.

Fourth source:

Walker, C. (October 28, 2008). National Geographic. Retrieved from National Geographic News: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/10/1028_041028_alternative_energy.html From National Geographic’s website, Cameron Walker discusses and analyses the different renewable energies.

Fifth source:

C2es. (2011). C2es.org. Retrieved from http://www.c2es.org/energy/source/oil This article from the website “C2es” explains everything about oil: price, impact on the environment, spills, availability…etc.


God in Nature

What I loved most about Emerson’s Nature was the comparison of spirit and nature. Because God the creator designed the beautiful nature that is around us, it is an obvious thought that the spirit of God would be in nature. As stated by Emerson, nature’s purpose is to “stand as the apparition of God” (54). Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that every time we walk outside, inhale the air around us, soak in the sun, lay on the grass and embrace nature that we are indeed embracing God? Nature is as much a part of creation just as we are. And, if we are made in God’s image, wouldn’t it be reasonable to say that nature is made to be beautiful and perfect as well? I can’t tell you how many times I walk outside and see trash and pollution scattered over the ground and in the air. We wouldn’t treat ourselves as trash; why should we treat nature, which is an apparition of God (therefore, nature is spiritual), like garbage as well. To treat nature as such is to turn away from God. Although this sounds harsh, just think twice the next time you throw your McDonald’s wrapper on the ground.

Playing God

For my research paper I am going to be discussing genetic engineering of crops. It has both ecological and philosophical debates that I feel fit well into the topics that we have discussed in the class.

My thesis: Although there are benefits to genetically engineering our food sources, ultimately it is unethical and poses too many threats to both our own species and the environment around us.

The first part of my paper will focus on explaining the actual process of genetic engineering. It’s slightly difficult to have an opinion on something that you do not understand, so I figured this would fit best in the beginning. I will then speak about how exactly the safety of genetically engineered food is determined. Next I will go over the few pros of genetic engineering and then focus on the cons of the topic. Cons include both risks to humans and risks to the environment. The rest of the paper will be used to discuss the ethical and philosophical issues of the topic. This includes: looking at the issue in terms of deep ecology (where all living organisms have rights); the fact that it will decrease biodiversity; viewing the environment in a holistic approach in which not changing nature to benefit humans is better; using Diehm’s identification-as-kinship to draw connections between humans and the environment and how most of us would not want to be genetically engineered; how engineering food may help to provide more food at quicker rates, thus condoning the increase in population of the earth (which at the rate it is increasing we all know is catastrophic); and finally how it is unethical in the aspect that we are “playing God.”  Finally, I will conclude with how the cons out weigh the few pros there are and how we should stick to non-genetically engineered crops and organisms.

Here are five of my sources in APA format:

1. Regal, P. J. (2003). Foundations for Safe Genetic Engineering? Perspectives from Ecology, Evolution, and Agriculture. Acta Agriculturae Scandinavica: Section B, Soil & Plant Science, 5357-59.
This article discusses many things relative to genetic engineering, including “leapfrogging” (spreading of genetically mutated plants) and other ecological concerns.

2. Jefferson, V. (2006). The Ethical Dilemma of Genetically Modified Food. Journal Of Environmental Health, 69(1), 33-34.
This article speaks about the ethical concerns of genetically engineered food. It includes a utilitarian approach to argue for it and the view that it could cause harm to argue against it.

3. Henry, R. J. (1998). Modern biology, genetic engineering and the food supply. Australian Journal Of Nutrition & Dietetics, 55(1), 25.
This article spends the majority of the time speaking about the benefits to biotechnology (genetic engineering is a form of biotechnology).

4. Risks of genetic engineering. (2002, October 30). Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/risks-of-genetic-engineering.html
This online article gives detailed explanations of the risks of genetic engineering to both humans and the environment.

5. Shorrocks, B., & Coates, D. (1993). The release of genetically-engineered organisms. British Ecological Society, (4), Retrieved from http://www.britishecologicalsociety.org/wp-content/uploads/The-release-of-genetically-engineered-organisms.pdf
This article discusses how exactly genetically engineered organisms are created.

Into the wild, interesting ending…

This movie directed by Sean Penn in 2007 is about the life of Christopher McCandless, a promising 22 year old college kid who decides to leave his wealthy family and his known identity trying to forget the “material world” that he was in, in order to live adventures and find the meaning of freedom and nature. The history of this character is divided into 5 chapters: his born, adolescence, adult, family and the path to wisdom.

Sean Penn achieves in this “road movie” to put us in the skin of every single character in the movie. The acting from the cast did a good job because they expressed themselves very good. Facial and body gestures made the movie seem very realistic. Emile Hirsch was capable of connecting with Chris McCandless’s soul, who was very involved in his role, to the point where sometimes we could think that she was Christopher. The movie had a lot physical and psychological “transformations.” I also thought that Hal Brook did a wonderful job with his facial expressions and how you can just interpret so many things by the gestures and faces he does.

There is also something that we need to mention about this movie. The incredible soundtrack from Eddie Vedder made the narration of the story even more interesting, catching the spectator’s attention to understand the character’s personalities, and making the movie more personal and emotional. Sean Penn wanted the vocalist of Pearl Jam to become the inner voice of the characters and he accomplished it. Along with the pure and good music, we could also enjoy the wonderful job that Eric Gautier did with his photography and filming, achieving to transmit the emotional states of the characters.

I had some questions at the end of the movie. For example, he said that he really loved his sister but he did not even say anything to her before leaving for his journey. Another question that I had is what was Chris thinking before he was going to die? Did he regret of what he did or was he happy about everything he did? It will be a mystery to interpret…